Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Running for India!

We just had a great half marathon in Gurgaon on Sunday Dec 7th.
The volunteers were there by 5:45 am with registrations happening with torches and much gusto. Runners quickly pinning their bibs on and getting ready for Gurgaon's first ever Half Marathon - the Runningandliving.com Half Marathon. Anita, Venkat, Aseem, Shruti, Rahul Nainwal and others helped make for swift registrations. We had a sophisticated wireless digital timing system - even more sophisticated because this did not even use chips - It was a digital stop-clock!!
We flagged off the run on the dot at 630am, as we ushered in the registrants of the 10K run - a run for India, to express solidarity with the tragic events that had happened in Mumbai the week before. We were all one. The 10K runners were raring to go as they cheered the half marathoners as they finished their first loop, and at 7am, they were off.
The 5k runners who had come for the run for India, came in huge numbers, from schools, corporates, Kashyap Kashmiri Sabha and anyone and everyone who had heard Red FM making announcements over the previous three days. The innocents and heroes in Mumbai may have had lives snuffed out, but they had gotten us out of our inertia and lit the fires in our hearts, to start doing something. The focus was on "what am I going to do to make India a better place" and several runners wrote their personal resolution out, which was then put up on a wall. The themes went covered security, being a better citizen by not paying a bribe, by parking in the right place, by thinking as an "Indian", and building a green future and so on.
The atmosphere was charged as the runners assembled on the starting line. About 100-150 kids stood in the front - kids from Happy School in Gurgaon, others supported by TCS, and yet others who had come with their families. They cheered lustily for the half marathoners as they came in for their 3rd loop. Shortly thereafter the 10K runners came in for their 2nd loop and then they were cheered lustily too, and at 730 it was time for all those collected for the Run for India to be off.
I ran with the 5k runners and had just finished a km when I got a frantic call from my elder daughter at the 10K finish line saying "Papa where are the goodie bags for the 10K? I think someone is finishing now." Thats when I cut short my run and sprinted back to her.
All was sorted out at the finish line for the 5k and 10k and the volunteers who were runners, their spouses and kids, all did a fantastic job of helping out and making the runs full of high energy, making them high involvement runs.
Several half marathoners finished with personal bests - I knew they were - since this was cold and great, serious running weather, flat, Gatorade, cheering audiences, + anyone who had run the half on Nov 9th was going to be in great shape for a PB in any case. Thats what makes a difference - being runner friendly, I guess.
Was great to see the media turned out in huge numbers to cover the event, talk to the runners and not celebrities.
When one media person asked me if there were any celebrities, I said yes there were. "There were over 1000 celebrities!!"
The winner of the half - Bhupender - finished in an amazing time of 1:29 minutes and several others shaved 5-10 and even 15 minutes off their best times. I just got a call from Vineet saying that he ran the Nov 9th half marathon in 3:02 and he finished the Runningandliving.com half marathon in 2:22 - Now that is outstanding!!
Made me feel proud at what all of us had been able to accomplish. Hats off to each one of the thirty five volunteers who helped make this happen, and to Red FM, Gatorade, Aquafina, Reebok, HUDA and the Gurgaon Traffic Police.
Check out http://www.runningandliving.com/Organising_a_Running_events.html for some basics if you are planning to organise a running event

Everyone bettering what we had done earlier, and resolving to make a difference, personally.
We did it!!
We can do even better!
Pictures at :


Rahul Verma said...

Congratulations on a very successful effort. I have to say you made my trip to India special. Hopefully the run will grow with time, I will try to be there next year. Please let me know if I could be of any help. Being a cardiologist I preach staying healthy for a living, however your efforts are very commendable considering the fact you are a non medic. I am back in US, with fond memories from the recent trip.

Rahul Verghese said...

I was amazed at your getting off a fight from the States and making it to the starting line of a half marathon. Pity I could not catch up later but I know that we will.
Glad to know that you had fun - we've just made a beginning.
Next month I am speaking at an orthopedics conference on the importance of the orthopedics themselves starting to take up running themselves and then inspire their patients - to lead healthier lives.
Would love to do one with Cardiologists too - especially in the cardiac problem capital of the world - in India.
See you soon and happy snow shoveling in Green Bay.

Usha Rao said...


Great work with your run in Cape Town! I enjoyed reading the entire progress. So proud of you! Wishing you continued success with your personal running and for "running and living".

Rahul Verghese said...

Hey thanks Usha - now you can start running a bit in Saratoga and get Vasu to run outdoors too. Maybe Been too at a later stage:-)